Our last blog entry discussed the ancient Chinese tradition of confinement for new mothers. Immediately after birth new mommies need time to recover. They need to allow their bodies the luxury of rest, good nourishment and peace. After a difficult or prolonged labor moms need to be babied and cared for. I encourage you to think of this before you deliver. Plan to take several weeks away from your regular life for bonding with your baby. Give yourself the time to get breastfeeding down. Doulas will tell you to give you baby only breastmilk for at least the first three weeks. It takes your body that long to establish a healthy milk supply.
Breastfeeding is designed to help your body return to normal. The contractions you feel in your abdomen when breastfeeding cause your uterus to contract back to it’s pre-delivery size. In addition, hormones released during breastfeeding help your baby and you to bond. These hormones bring euphoria, causing you to literally fall in love with your baby! The hormones released in your breastmilk encourage your baby to trust and depend upon you. Research continues to find new physical benefits for both mother and baby in longterm lactation! I recently read a study showing that women who breastfeed at least a year have lower rates of breast cancer after the age of sixty!
One of the conversations I have with new mommies is the importance of having a few moments just for them each day. I encourage them think about what brings them peace and make sure they enjoy a bit of time each day experiencing it. For you it might be reading your favorite book. taking a walk around the block alone, a phono call with a dear friend, etc. For one mommy I worked with it was planting flowers. Each morning she would put her infant daughter in a wrap and go out in to the backyard and plant rose bushes. This refreshed her and gave her a respite from the chaos of having a new baby in the house. It will not be easy to carve out the time, but it will help you gain a wonderful perspective on your hectic days!
In western society we have lost the understanding that having a baby changes everything in your life. I so appreciate the cultures where this is a consideration. The first few weeks of you baby’s life are precious. They are irretrievable. Taking the time to relax, recuperate, and enjoy your baby allows you to build a firm foundation of confidence and trust in your abilities as a mom. This time is extremely valuable. It is this way each time you deliver a baby.
If you have a Cesarean Section it is even more important that you arrange your schedule to allow yourself to recover. Having a baby takes nine months of energy, emotion, nutrients, and more. If surgery is required at your delivery you will have experienced a major life event. Physically you will have a more complicated time. Immediately after birth you will have to recover from the medications used during surgery. This takes a day or two. I know after my C-Section I had a reaction to the anesthetic used and was incoherent and vomiting for 24 hours. Friends came to visit and I didn’t remember they had been there. It was tough. My Cesarean was after 20 hours of induced labor. In addition to the surgery my body was exhausted and sore from the induction. I remember my newborn was in his bassinet crying and I was in so much pain I could not move to help him. I lay in my bed crying. This was my sixth delivery. No one had warned me. I had small children and a newborn at home and no help. It was a year before I felt normal.
As the years have progressed I have come to appreciate the professionals in the infant care industry. At this point I encourage anyone delivering at a hospital to take a professional with them. The Covid restrictions have recked havoc on birth experiences. Forcing young women to chose between their mothers and their husbands has caused great distress. Having your significant other present is vital, this baby belongs to you both. Sharing in the birth process is beautiful and so important. However, loosing the input for someone who has gone through the process is a huge negative. When you are in labor your body is contracting, your hormones are raging and you are not yourself. The decisions you make regarding your immediate care are suspect. Please take someone with you who has been through the process and is able to help you make tough decisions.
In closing enjoy this wonderful time in you life! Plan ahead so you can find peace and rest in the best way for you. Be willing to part with a few dollars if it streamlines your recovery. You will not regret it.